(Update June 18, 2013 – the below judicial scrutiny survived review by the BC Court of Appeal)
Following recent judicial criticism of overly robust requests for future care costs, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, criticizing a “gold-plated” expert report.
In last week’s case (Jarmson v. Jacobsen) the Plaintiff was involved in a motorcycle accident. Although he sustained serious injuries and was awarded significant damages at trial, his claimed damages for cost of future care was met with skepticism. In criticizing the expert evidence on this point Mr. Justice Meiklem gave the following reasons:
The defendant’s closing submission listed 20 items recommended by Ms. Landy that the defendant argued were not medically supported by any evidence at trial. I agree with that submission. Many of those items would require very significant outlays, for example, a van with a lifting device to transport an anticipated power mobility device.
Mr. Hemmerling made other vigorous submissions challenging Ms. Landy’s impartiality and objectivity and her reliance on facts and opinions not in evidence, and criticizing her for travelling to Dubai to interview witnesses already interviewed by counsel, knowing that Mr. Jarmson would soon be relocating. I would not go so far as to agree that Ms. Landy became an advocate specifically for the plaintiff in this case, but it is a fair comment that she seemed to advocate an expansion of the types of items and services claimable as future care costs under the law.
Ms. Landy did rely on facts, opinions and assumptions not in evidence, and in some instances her costing displayed a discomforting lack of care. An example of the latter is her costing of Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software and instruction at $2,500 when that software and an instructional disc are readily available for $99, as advertized on the distributor’s website.
Ms. Landy acknowledged during cross-examination that she would defer to the contrary views of Dr. Travlos or other doctors in respect of some of her recommendations, such as recommending laser eye surgery to avoid the problem of dropping or damaging contact lenses due to hand tremors which Dr. Travlos cannot attribute to his injuries.
Ms. Landy’s Life Care Plan is not just a Cadillac; it is a gold-plated one, which goes far beyond what is reasonable. For example, her recommendation of one-to-one rehabilitation support for 10 hours weekly, (essentially to replicate what his wife, who has been his constant workout partner, has always done) is unsupported by medical opinions other than her own, and would cost $21,600 per year. The present value of that expense alone is over $338,000. With all its shortcomings, I cannot accord Ms. Landy’s recommendations very much weight in my assessment, other than to provide a checklist for comparison and thoroughness.